Raising boys into men requires some basic elements that apply to nearly every setting. For example, earlier, I expounded on the Boy Scouts’ saying, “Boys need to know the objective, the rules and know who’s in charge,” referenced in Michael Gurian’s book The Wonder of Boys. This simple statement is packed with practical wisdom as you guide boys to maturity.
Knowing Rules: Boys (and men) function best when they are clear on the boundary markers in all of life’s dimensions–home, school, playground, relationships, etc. These markers, or rules, help them know how to succeed, but also when they succeed. Just like men, they want to sense reward, recognition and accountability when they play by the rules and win. Without clear rules, though, or others playing by those rules, boys get frustrated and discouraged, and then act out based upon those negative emotions.
Give your boys simple and clear rules wherever they go, and hold them accountable to follow them. More specifically, define rules that point them towards respecting others and themselves, and ones that make a job success possible. For example, I tell my boys that in our house we don’t bully or pester, so when either of those relational rules get broken, we point back to that axiom, and hold them accountable. Also, when it comes to work or play, we have the rule: Do the job right, because sloppy or lazy work isn’t tolerated. Sounds demanding, at first, but I want my boys to feel a since of pride and healthy pressure as they work and play. In other words, how they work and play is as important as their outcomes.
Finally, rules must have a rule maker and rule keeper. I’ll handle that in part three.